Azreen Nabila can go faster after two sub-12s in Tokyo - Nazmizan

National women’s sprinter Azreen Nabila Alias put on an energetic run to advance to the first round of the 100-meter event after finishing second in the qualifying round at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, this morning.
31/07/2021 06:13 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, July 31 -- Young sprinter Azreen Nabila Alias can be proud of her achievements at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, especially after recording two sub-12 seconds (s) timings, including a personal best of 11.77s, in the women’s 100-metre (m) event.

What makes her achievement more impressive, according to former Southeast Asian speed king Nazmizan Muhammad, is that the 21-year-old Olympic debutant did it without her coach (S. Balamurugan) being present in Tokyo, without any international exposure and armed with just three weeks of preparation.

To her credit, she never let these factors bother her as she went on to prove that her selection for the wildcard spot in athletics was spot-on when she set a personal best of 11.77s in the qualifying round and 11.91s in round one of the 100m race at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium on Friday (July 30).

Her previous best of 11.81s was set at the 2018 Malaysia Games (Sukma) in Perak.

“By taking into account that she (Azreen Nabila) only knew of her Tokyo slot at the last minute and had only a short period of time to prepare, the time she clocked in Tokyo is good indeed,” the former national sprinter told Bernama today.

In Saturday’s (July 30) event, Azreen Nabila produced a spirited display to finish second in the 100m qualifiers before ending the first round in last spot.

Meanwhile, Nazmizan, who won the men’s 100m and 200m gold medals at the 2003 Hanoi SEA Games, believes that Azreen Nabila has the ability to go faster, adding that he would not be surprised if she were to break the national record in the future. 

He feels that the 2018 National Sportswoman of the Year only needs to be given more exposure in international competitions to raise her performance level, including from the aspect of handling the pressure that comes with competing.  

“In the first round, she (Azreen Nabila) ran with some of the world's best and she would have surely been nervous. But that, to me, is the turning point for her… she learned something new in Tokyo,” said Nazmizan.

The Terengganu-born Azreen also has a season-best of 12.00s, which she achieved in April en route to beating her more illustrious compatriots S. Komalam Shally of Perak and Johor’s Siti Fatimah Mohamad to the 100m gold at the Malaysian Grand Prix Championship.

Realising that the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic may be an obstacle for the national athletes to train overseas, Nazmizan hopes that Azreen Nabila will be able to maintain her momentum by competing in several internal meets or be allowed to train with her male counterparts.

“(Former national sprinter) G. Shanti once asked to train with the men’s back-up athletes who were then clocking 11.2s. I think maybe Azreen needs such a ‘sparring partner’ for her to run faster,” he said.

Former international Shanti still holds the women’s 100m national record of 11.50s, which she set at a pre-SEA Games event in Kuala Lumpur in 1993. 

Meanwhile, Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) deputy president Datuk Mumtaz Jaafar said a post-mortem on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics would be held to assess and discuss several matters on the direction for the national athletes.